Apr 11

It takes a village (to create a new office)

New office 1

The new space features tall ceilings, big windows and exposed brick.

When we first began visioning on our new office, I shared preliminary details with my father-in-law during one of our standing Sunday night phone calls: great location, repurposed factory, open floor plan, space for a photo studio, free parking – when he stopped me.

What will YOUR office look like, he asked? How big will it be?

Well, I began to explain, I will have a corner of our new office, but I won’t have walls or a door. The office configuration gives each of us individual work space, but the opportunity to collaborate formally (conference area) or informally (comfy couches).

Dead silence.


Decorative elements were incorporated to give the open space a warmer feel.

I shouldn’t have been surprised. After all, my father-in-law is from an era where stature is measured by square feet. But much has changed about office design since that time – indeed, much had changed in the 13+ years since I left the corporate world for the convenience of a home office.

So when we started exploring new office options, we took a deliberative approach. Our team brainstormed about needs (tall ceilings) vs. wants (covered parking), prioritizing a list. We talked location (no soul-sucking office park), square footage (north of the cramped 180 square feet we were working out of) and timing (soon).

We then assembled a team of professionals to help us, starting with Cathy Bottema, our broker from Signature Associates. Cathy was expert in quickly helping us identify office space we wanted AND could afford.


The new space blends a mixture of residential and commercial furniture.

She worked closely with our attorneys, Melissa Collar and Rachel Foster of Warner Norcross, on the letter of intent and lease. Rachel’s guidance identifying issues and working through iterations of the lease was invaluable – having an experienced real estate attorney on the front end of the process no doubt saved us time, money and potential heartache down the road.

Once the I’s were dotted and all the T’s crossed, it came time for the fun stuff – furniture and interior design. We tapped the fabulous Mary Dixon, who had done work we admired for several clients, to help us take 1,623 square feet of space and turn it into a workable office.


Through a multi-use layout, the space has room for collaboration and personal worktime.

Working from our corporate color palette, Mary developed a floor plan that accommodated the way we worked (collaborative space vs. individual workspace) while taking advantage of the features of our new space (big windows, exposed brick and wood beams). She thought of the little things – like electrical outlets – that would have escaped us until move-in day.

Mary created a look that married fun and functional desks, seating and storage with residential touches. She then introduced us to Jan Viglione and her team at Kentwood Office Furniture, who helped fulfill that vision with loads of pieces from some leading West Michigan manufacturers: Herman Miller, Hon, Cleo and Izzy+.

Glenn Medendorp from GHM Painting came in to transform our walls from basic white to the blues, grays and begonia that make our office such a welcoming place. While I must admit to pausing after seeing the first coat on an accent wall (teal? Who OK’d teal?), it all came together beautifully in the end.

Two Men and a Truck moved us expertly and efficiently. Shoreline Technology did its part to minimize the pain of transferring our server and setting up remote access.


Fun and function come together in the new space — most notably with our brindle rug.

Today marks our seventh week in our new space, which is getting to feel more like ours every day. We’ve already hosted a board meeting, a writing workshop, a lunch-and-learn for clients, several Drop-in Friday Headshot mornings, a new business meeting and a slew of in-person conversations with clients and friends. More are on tap in the weeks to come.

We’re looking forward to our open house from 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Wednesday. Please stop by if you’re in the neighborhood.

While my father-in-law won’t be able to join us this week, I am looking forward to showing him our new digs in the not-too-distance future. I hope I can help him look past the lack of walls and doors and see what I see: a welcoming new space that gives our team the room to truly shine.

One thought on “It takes a village (to create a new office)”

  1. Denise Kolesar says:

    I love the way you write… so much talent.

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